2010 Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone

june 23, 2013: first blog posting in a while. let's see if we can still do this.

first, i gotta say it: cotes du rhone is awesome. more than a speck of black pepper, minor red fruits, medium-bodied yet light enough for a hot summer day ... this louis bernard is a ron hull (of winetree) recommendation after a 2010 andezon just didn't work out. that's unusual from winetree. andezon is probably my favorite cotes du rhone because it's heavier bodied. after that first, initial andezon experience a couple of years ago, we pretty much bought up every cotes du rhone in the city — and still, none compared to the andezon. we've had this cotes du rhone before, but for me, it's like it's an entirely new experience.

ron said it would be a little lighter than the andezon, and i think he's right -- but it's not lighter by much. i like that it's 13 percent alcohol. the more familiar i've become with wine, the more those percentages matter. it's a factor, too, of french wines; 13 and 13.5 are common. it has to do with the taxes there. more than 14 percent, i think it is, and the taxes increase. typically, i think, it means you're less likely to get a jammy wine like a shiraz (which can be in the 15 percent-plus category). no judging here; i'm as likely to drink a shiraz as the next person. i'm just more likely to do it on a day when i don't have to go to work the next day.

something else about cotes du rhone: this is a wine with texture. i'm not sure how to explain it, other than to compare it to the silkiest chardonnay you can think of. i know, i know, that's a white wine -- totally different category, one would think, at least -- but it's an effective comparison for this purpose. ever had a chardonnay so smooth that it's like butter? like silk? that you don't even notice empty your glass? in my experience, cotes du rhone is not like that at all. it's not the tannins, though that might be part of it. what it is, i think, is the black pepper. there's no way black pepper can be smooth. it's just a function of the flavor. it catches in your throat. it stops you in your tracks. it cannot be ignored. yet at the same time, it's still likable.

at least it is for me.